This year's Bedlam edition was every bit as emotionally draining as expected. Midway through the 4th quarter, I told my wife this was the best game I had seen all year - "if we end up winning". Alas, "Sooner Magic" held sway and the Savannah State game retains it's perch at the top of my 2012 memory heap. Which tells you all you need to know about the season.
My first five thoughts on tonight's game follow:
- OU clearly took last year's Bedlam lessons to heart. Knowing Bill Young would seek to duplicate his defensive aggressiveness from the prior year, it seems obvious that OU wanted to emphasize the short to intermediate passing game. OU managed 44 first downs (!!) — typical of a team trying to work their way down the field 10-15 yards at a time. This effectively negated OSU's interior-led pass rush as Landry Jones did not have to wait for long routes to develop before throwing the ball. OU's interior offensive linemen did a masterful job of picking up the blitzes, stunts, and twists thrown their way by the Cowboys and OSU was unable to generate any sort of pressure off the edge. Secondary blitzes were largely ineffective due to the distances involved. As a result, Oklahoma State's secondary was exposed by an experienced, strong-armed QB who had only to read 1-2 routes before throwing the quick hitter. The Cowboy's secondary was clearly a weakness going into the game...and it remains so.
- OSU was not able to control the line of scrimmage. While true the Oklahoma State defensive front forced OU to all but abandon the run (which should be a surprise to no one not named Stephanie Kuzydym), OSU only registered one sack on the evening despite bringing extra pressure all night. OU effectively schemed the OSU interior lineman out of the game. On the other side of the ball, OSU's offensive linemen were unable to consistently and dependably open running lanes for Randle and Smith. Including Chelf's big runs in the first half, OSU barely registered 200 yards of rushing offense. This number was supposed to be much more lopsided in the favor of the Cowboys and it severely limited Monken's play-calling.
- Quarterback Clint Chelf turned in another performance that could, on the whole, only be spun as average. A tale of two halves, Chelf's first two quarters left little doubt as to why he was starting. However, during the second half, under pressure, and in need of a consistent passing game, Chelf wilted. The games at Texas Tech and OU together begin a trend of poor second half play by the junior signal caller.
- How many tipped passes will OSU be giving to opposing teams this year as interceptions? Stewart, the Cowboys receiver with arguably the best hands, has had at least three of these (UA, TCU, and OU come to mind). Maybe four? If Stewart manages to catch the ball thrown (behind) him which was instead tipped to OU for a pick, OSU goes on to at least score a field goal on that drive. On the defensive side, if Gilbert manages to catch the ball that he instead tipped to Stills for a TD - the Cowboys are looking at a possible 21 point swing in their favor.
- Twice, Oklahoma State has lost to a traditional Big 12 power in the waning moments. Twice, in those same contests, OSU gave up a coverage touchdown on special teams which proved to be the difference.